Nuʿmān ibn Thābit ibn Zuṭā ibn Marzubān (Arabic: نعمان بن ثابت بن زوطا بن مرزبان), known as Abū Ḥanīfah, (Arabic: أبو حنيفة) (699 — 765 CE / 80 — 148 AH) was the founder of the Sunni Hanafi school of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence).
Abu Hanifa was also one of the Tabi‘un, the generation after the SahabaAnas ibn Malik, and transmitted hadiths from him and other Sahaba. (companions), because he saw the Sahabi
Name, birth and ancestryAbu Hanifa (699 — 767 CE / 80 — 148 AH) was born in Kufa, Iraq during the reign of the powerful Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik (Abdul Malik bin Marwan). Acclaimed as Al-Imam al-A'zam, or Al-A'dham (the Great Imam), Nu’man bin Thabit bin Zuta bin Mah was better known by his kunya Abu Hanifa. It was not a true kunya, as he did not have a son called Hanifa, but an epithetical one meaning pure in monotheistic belief. His father, Thabit bin Zuta, a trader from Kabul, part of Khorasan in Persia (the capital of modern day Afghanistan), was 40 years old at the time of Abu Hanifa's birth.
His ancestry is generally accepted as being of non-Arab origin as suggested by the etymology of then names of his grandfather (Zuta) and great-grandfather (Mah). The historian, Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, records a statement from Abu Hanifa's grandson, Ismail bin Hammad, who gave Abu Hanifa's lineage as Thabit bin Numan bin Marzban and claiming to be of Persian origin. The discrepancy in the names, as given by Ismail of Abu Hanifa's grandfather and great-grandfather are thought to be due to Zuta's adoption of the Arabic name (Numan) upon his acceptance of Islam and that Mah and Marzban were titles or official designations in Persia. Further differences of opinion exist on his ancestry. Abu Muti, for example, describes Abu Hanifa as an Arab citing his ancestry as Numan bin Thabit bin Zuta bin Yahya bin Zaid bin Asad. The widely accepted opinion, however, is that he was of Persian ancestry.
Status as a Tabi‘unAbu Hanifa was born 67 years after the death of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, but during the time of the Sahaba of Muhammad, some of whom lived on until Abu Hanifa's youth. Anas bin Malik, Muhammad's personal attendant, died in 93 AH and another companion, Abul Tufail Amir bin Wathilah, died in 100 AH, when Abu Hanifa was 20 years old. No evidence exists, however, to indicate Abu Hanifa had narrated any hadith from the companions although there is no doubt that he was a "tabi'i" (one who had met a companion of Muhammad) and had met Anas bin Malik.
It is perceived this is due to the strict age requirements for learning the discipline of hadith that existed at the time in Kufa where no one below the age of 20 was admitted to a hadith school. The scholars of the time felt anyone below this age would not have attained the maturity required to be able to understand the meaning of the narrations.
Early life and educationAbu Hanifa grew up in a period of oppression during the caliphates of Abdul Malik bin Marwan and his son Al-Walid I (Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik). The governorship of Iraq was under the control of Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, a loyal follower of Abdul Malik. During his governorship leaders in religion and learning were especially targeted by Hajjaj as they were proving to be an obstacle to Abdul Malik's establishment of his rule across Arabia and Iraq. Consequently, Abu Hanifa had no interest nor the opportunity to acquire any education in his early childhood. He was simply content with following in the footsteps of his ancestors as a businessman.
He set up a silk weaving business where he showed scrupulous honesty and fairness. Once his agent in another country, sold some silk cloth on his behalf but forgot to point out a slight defect to the purchasers. When Abu Hanifa learned this, he was greatly distressed as he had no means of refunding their money. He immediately ordered the entire proceeds of the sale of the consignment of silk to be distributed to the poor.
Following the deaths of Hajjaj in 95 AH and Walid in 96 AH, justice and good administration began to make a comeback with the caliphates of Sulaiman bin Abdul Malik and thereafter Umar bin Abdul Aziz. Umar encouraged education to such an extent that every home became a madrasa. Abu Hanifa also began to take an interest in education which was heightened further by the unexpected advice of as-Sha'bi (d. 722), one of Kufa's most well-known scholars.
While running an errand for his mother, he happened to pass the home of as-Sha'bi. Sha'bi, mistaking him for a student, asked him whose classes he attended. When Abu Hanifa responded that he did not attend any classes, Sha'bi said, "I see signs of intelligence in you. You should sit in the company of learned men." Taking Sha'bi's advice, Abu Hanifa embarked on a prolific quest for knowledge that would in due course have a profound impact on the history of Islam. His early education was achieved through madāris and it is here that he learned the Qur'an and Hadith, doing exceptionally well in his studies. He spent a great deal of time in the tutelage of Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, a great jurist of Kufah.
Abu Hanifa was one of the distinguished students of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (The Truthful was also Muhammad's grandson), as has been confirmed by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami in his Al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, Allamah Shiblinji in his Nur al Absar, Abdul Haleem Jindi and Mohaqiq Abu Zohra and various other Muhadatheen (hadith scholars) and Ulema have clarified that Imam Abu Hanifa was a student of Imam Ja'far Sadiq. Imam Ja'far had opened a university that not only taught religion, but the sciences and math. The Islamic alchemist, Geber, studied at the Imams' university. Under these conditions Abu Hanifa studied and gained his knowledge. Abu Hanifa’s initial chain of knowledge was with Muhammad al-Baqir and he subsequently expanded this chain of knowledge with Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq.
Adulthood and deathal-Mansur, the Abbasid monarch offered Abu Hanifa the post of Chief Judge of the State, but he declined to accept the offer, choosing to remain independent. His student Abu Yusuf was appointed Qadi Al-Qadat (Chief Judge of the State) of al-Mansur regime instead of himself.
In his reply to al-Mansur, Abu Hanifa excused himself by saying that he did not regard himself fit for the post. Al-Mansur, who had his own ideas and reasons for offering the post, lost his temper and accused Abu Hanifa of lying.
"If I am lying," Abu Hanifa said, "then my statement is doubly correct. How can you appoint a liar to the exalted post of a Chief Qadi (Judge)?"
Incensed by this reply, the ruler had Abu Hanifa arrested, locked in prison and tortured. He was never fed nor cared for. Even there, the indomitable jurist continued to teach those who were permitted to come to him.
In 767, Abu Hanifa died in prison. It was said that so many people attended his funeral that the funeral service was repeated six times for more than 50,000 people who had amassed before he was actually buried. Later, after many years, a mosque, the Abu Hanifa Mosque in the Adhamiyah neighborhood of Baghdad, was built in honor of him.
Some of Abu Hanifa's Literary Works
- Kitaab-ul-Aathar - compiled from a total of 70,000 ahadith
- Kitabul Assar
- Aalim wa'l-muta‘allim
- Fiqh al-Akbar
- Jaami’ul Masaneed
- Kitaabul Rad alal Qaadiriyah
Mālik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn 'Āmr al-Asbahi (Arabic مالك بن أنس) (c. 711 - 795) (93 AH - 179 AH ) is known as "Imam Malik," the "Sheikh of Islam," the "Proof of the Community," and "Imam of the Abode of Emigration."  He was one of the most highly respected scholars of fiqh in Sunni Islam. Imam Shafi, who was one of Malik's student for nine years and a scholarly giant in his own right, stated, "when scholars are mentioned, Malik is like the star among them." The Maliki Madhab, named after Malik, is one of the four schools of jurisprudence that remains popular among Muslims to this day.
BiographyHis full name was Abu Abdullah Mālik ibn Anas ibn Mālik Ibn Abī 'Āmir Ibn 'Amr Ibnul-Hārith Ibn Ghaimān Ibn Khuthail Ibn 'Amr Ibnul-Haarith.
Malik was born the son of Anas ibn Malik (not the Sahabi) and Aaliyah bint Shurayk al-Azdiyya in Medina circa 711. His family was originally from the al-Asbahi tribe of Yemen, but his great grandfather Abu 'Amir relocated the family to Medina after converting to Islam in the second year after hijra (623). According to Al-Muwatta, he was tall, heavyset, imposing of stature, very fair, with white hair and beard but bald, with a huge beard and blue eyes.
Early lifeDetails of Malik's early teenage years remains mostly unknown, though there are accounts indicating that he pursued religious education at the age of 11. Before embarking in his religious studies, Malik helped his brother sell fabrics.
TeachersLiving in Medina gave Malik access to some of the most learned minds of early Islam. He memorized the Quran in his youth, learning recitation from Imam Abu Suhail an-Nafi' ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman, from whom he also received his Sanad, or certification and permission to teach others. He studied under various famed scholars including Hisham ibn Urwah, Jafar al Sadiq, and Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri.
Compiling and narrating hadithMalik practiced extreme care in regard to narrating Hadith, saying, "I do not accept knowledge from four types of people: (1) a person known to be foolish, even though others may narrate from him, (2) a person involved in committing heresy and calling others towards the innovation, (3) a person who lies in regular conversation, even though I do not accuse him as liar in regard to Hadith, (4) and a person who is pious worshipper or scholar, but does not properly and correctly memorize what he narrates."
Golden Chain of NarrationImam Malik's chain of narrators was considered the most authentic and called Silsilat ul-Zhahab or "The Golden Chain of Narrators" by notable hadith scholars including Imam Bukhari. The 'Golden Chain' of narration (i.e., that considered by the scholars of Hadith to be the most authentic) consists of Malik, who narrated from Nafi', who narrated from ibn Umar, who narrated from Muhammad.
Reluctance in rendering religious verdictsMalik took advantage of the fact that he was contemporary to many of the Tabi‘in to formulate his famous school of thought which gave precedence to the acts of the people of Medina over the Hadith if they were in conflict. This was done due to the sizeable amount of scholars, and companions of Muhammad residing in the city where Malik's reputation grew immensely. Malik nevertheless showed hesitancy in issuing religious verdicts explaining in one of his more famous statements that:
|“||The shield of the scholar is, 'I do not know,' so if he neglects it, his statement is attacked.||”|
Textualist interpretation of hadith on God's attributesMalik adhered to a textual interpretion of hadith in relation to God's attributes. Ad-Daraqutnee relates that Malik was asked about the attributes of Allah, to which Malik answered, "Pass them on as they come." Furhermore, Qadi Iyad relates that Malik was asked whether people would be looking toward Allah given the narration, "And some faces shall be shining and radiant upon that day, looking at their Lord." Malik ensuingly answered, "Yes, with these two eyes of his," though his student replied, "there are a people who say he will not be looking at Allah, that 'looking' means a reward" to which Malik answered, "They lied, rather they will look at Allah." .
Opposition to bidah or innovation in beliefsMalik was vehemently opposed to any forms of bidah and even directed others not to extend the Islamic greeting of Salam to the people of bidah, stating, "how evil are the People of Innovation, we do not give them salaam." Malik explained that "he who innovates an innovation in Islaam regarding it as something good, has claimed that Muhammad has betrayed his trust to deliver the message as Allah says, 'this day have I perfected for you your religion'. And whatsoever was not part of the religion then, is not part of the religion today."
Prohibiting KalamMalik sternly prohibited theological rhetoric and philosophical speech, frequently referred to as kalam. Malik believed that Kalam was rooted in heretical doctrines taken up and followed by controversial theologians such as Jahm bin Safwan. When asked about an individual who delved into Kalam, Malik answered, "he innovated his innovation with kalaam, and if kalaam had been knowledge, the Companions and the tabi'in would have spoken about it, just as they spoke about the rules and regulations..
The Companions of MuhammadMalik stressed that those who harbor rancour in their hearts toward the Companions of Prophet Muhammad or find fault with them shall have no right to share war booty with the Muslims. Malik's views pertaining to the Rightly Guided Caliphs sets forth the Sunni position that Abu Bakr properly succeeded Muhammad in leadership. In a famous narration, one of Malik's students, Ashaab Ibn Abdul-Azeez said:
|“||We were with Malik when a man from amongst the Alawiyyeen stood against him, and they used to come to his gatherings. So he called out to him, `O Abaa 'Abdullaah!' (meaning Malik) So Malik looked to him, and there was not just anyone whom he would have answered, from many of those whom he looked to with his head. So at Taalibee (the Alawee) said to him, `I wish to make you a proof in regards to what is between myself and Allah. When I stand before Him and He asks me, I will say: Malik said it to me.' So he said to him, `Speak.' So he said, `Who is the best of the people after the Messenger of Allah?' He said, ‘Abu Bakr.' The Alawee said,`Then who?' Malik said, `Then 'Umar.' The 'Alawee said, `Then who?' Malik said, `The Caliph who was killed in oppression, 'Uthmaan.' The 'Alawee said, `By Allah, I will never sit with you, ever.' Malik said to him, `The choice is yours."||”|
ControversyDespite his reluctance to render religious verdicts, Malik was outspoken. He issued fatwas against being forced to pledge allegiance to the Caliph Al-Mansur, and was punished via flogging for his stance. Al-Mansur apologized to Malik, and offered him money and residence in Baghdad, but Malik refused to leave the city of Prophet Muhammad. Later, Harun al-Rashid asked Malik to visit him while Harun was performing the hajj. The Imam refused, and instead he invited the new caliph to his class.
DeathImam Malik died at the age of 89 in Medina in 795 and is buried in the famous Jannat ul-Baqi cemetery across from the Masjid al Nabawi. Malik's last words was related by one Ismaa'eel Ibn Abee Uways who said, "Maalik became sick, so I asked some of our people about what he said at the time of his death. They said, `He recited the shahadah (testification of faith), then he recited:
|“||Their affair is for Allah, before and after.||”|
Al-Shafi'i, Arabic jurist (150 AH/767 AD - 204 AH/820 AD). He was active in juridical matters and his teaching eventually led to the Shafi'i school of fiqh (or Madh'hab) named after him. Hence he is often called Imam al-Shafi'i.
His full name was Abū ʿAbdullāh Muhammad ibn Idrīs al-Shafiʿī (ابو عبد الله محمد بن إدريس الشافعي).
IntroductionThe biography of al-Shafi'i is difficult to trace. The oldest surviving biography goes back to Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi (died 327H/939) and is no more than a collection of anecdotes, some of them fantastic. The first real biography is by Ahmad Bayhaqi (died 458H/1066) and is filled with pious legends. The following is what seems to be a sensible reading.
FamilyAl-Shafi'i belonged to the Qurayshi clan Banu Muttalib which was the sister clan of the Banu Hashim to which Muhammad and the Abbasid caliphs belonged. Hence he had connections in the highest social circles, but he grew up in poverty.
767 – 786: Al-Mansur to Al-Hadi's era
Early life, Imam MalikHe was born in Gaza and moved to Mecca when he was about ten. He is reported to have studied with the "School of Mecca" (which might not even have existed, although some scholars are reported to have been active there). Then he moved to Madinah to teach others of the message of Islam and be taught by Malik ibn Anas.
786 – 809: Harun al-Rashid's eraAfter that he lived in Mecca, Baghdad and finally Egypt.
Among his teachers were Malik ibn Anas and Muhammad ibn al Hasan al Shaybani, whom he studied under in Madinah and Baghdad.
At the time of Harun ar-Rashid, he had an appointment in Yemen, as a judge in Najran. Sunnis portray that his devotion to justice, even when it meant criticizing the governor, caused him some problems, and he was taken before the Caliph, falsely accused of aiding the Alawis in a revolt. At this time, al Shaybani was the chief justice, and his defense of ash-Shafi'i, coupled with ash-Shafi'i’s own eloquent defense, convinced Harun ar-Rashid to dismiss the charge, and to direct al Shaybani to take ash-Shafi'i to Baghdad.He was also a staunch critic of Al-Waqidi's writings on Sirah.
In Baghdad, he developed his first madhab, influenced by the teachings of both Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik. Thus, his work there is known as “al Madhab al Qadim lil Imam as Shafi’i,” or the Old School of ash-Shafi'i.
809 – 813: Al-Amin's era
|This section requires expansion.|
813 – 820: Al-Ma'mun's era
Fiqh researchIt appears that all of his surviving writings were done in retirement in Egypt during the last five years of his life.
Al-Shafi'i was controversial in his own time but, as history has shown, he won his point. Starting from the Maliki position of reliance (largely) upon tradition in legal matters he came into contact with and opposed the Hanafi position of reliance (largely) upon common sense. He reached the conclusion that tradition was indeed the proper basis for legal decisions, but only if that tradition was based upon the prophet and no one else.
The Hanafis, of course, were not willing to exchange all their common sense for hadiths and the Maliki's were not willing to give up traditions just because they had no prophetic hadiths supporting them. As time went by, however, both the Hanafis and Malikis have grown to conform to Shafi'i's idea that only prophetic hadiths matter. The fourth school of fiqh came later.
Shafi'i probably did not expect what happened next. There was an explosion of prophetic hadiths and an entire science had to be invented to handle them.
DeathHe died at the age of 54 on the 30th of Rajab in the Hijri year 204 (or, 820 AD). He was buried in al-Fustat, Egypt.
ViewsIt is stated in Rawdah al-Manazir fi al-Awai'l wa al-'Awakhir that :
|“||Imam Shafi'i said that the testimony of four companions will not be accepted and those four are Muawiya, Amr ibn al-As, Mugheera and Ziyad||”|
LegacySaladin built a madrassa on the site of his death. Saladin's brother Afdal built a mausoleum for him in 1211 after the defeat of the Fatamids. It remains a site where people petition for justice.
Shafi'i developed the science of fiqh unifying 'revealed sources' - the Quran and hadith - with human reasoning to provide a basis in law. With this systematization of shari'a he provided a legacy of unity for all Muslims and forestalled the development of independent, regionally based legal systems. The four Sunni legals schools or madhhabs- keep their traditions within the framework that Shafi'i established.
Shafi'i gives his name to one of these legal schools Shafi'i fiqh - the Shafi'i school - which is followed in many different places in the Islamic world: Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Somalia, Yemen and southern parts of India.
Today, many English speaking Muslims are introduced to the madhab of Imam Shafi’i through the translated works Umdat as Salik (Reliance of the Traveller) and al Maqasid, both done by Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller.
Among the followers of Imam Shafi’i’s school were:
- Muhammad al-Bukhari
- Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj
- Abu Da'ud
- Al-Tirmidhi
- Izz bin Abdul Salaam
- Al-Nasa'i
- Ibn Majah
- Imam Bayhaqi
- Hakim al-Nishaburi
- ibn Hibban
- Suyuti
- Al-Dhahabi
- al Ghazali
WorksHe authored more than 100 books.
- Al-Risala — The best known book by al-Shafi'i in which he examined usul al-fiqh (sources of jurisprudence): the Qur'an, the Sunnah, qiyas (analogy), and ijma' (scholarly consensus). There is a good modern translation.
- Kitab al-Umm - his main surviving text on Shafi'i fiqh
- Musnad Ash-Shafi'i (on hadith) - it is available with arrangement, Arabic 'Tartib', by Ahmad ibn Abd-Ar-Rahman al-Banna
Sunni viewMany stories are told about the childhood and life of ash-Shafi'i, and it is difficult to separate truth from myth:
Tradition says that he memorized the Qur’an at the age of seven; by ten, he had memorized the Muwatta of Imam Malik; he was a mufti (given authorization to issue fatwa) at the age of fifteen. He recited the Qur’an every day in prayer, and twice a day in Ramadan. Some apocryphal accounts claim he was very handsome, that his beard did not exceed the length of his fist, and that it was very black. He wore a ring that was inscribed with the words, “Allah suffices Muhammad ibn Idris as a reliance.” He was also known to be very generous.
He was also an accomplished archer, a poet, and some accounts call him the most eloquent of his time. Some accounts claim that there were a group of Bedouin who would come and sit to listen to him, not for the sake of learning, but just to listen to his eloquent use of the language. Even in latter eras, his speeches and works were used by Arabic grammarians. He was given the title of Nasir al Sunnah, the Defender of the Sunnah.
He loved Muhammad very deeply. Al Muzani said of him, “He said in the Old School: ‘Supplication ends with the invocation of blessings on the Prophet, and its end is but by means of it.’” Al-Karabisi said: “I heard al-Shafi’i say that he disliked for someone to say ‘the Messenger’ (al-Rasul), but that he should say ‘Allah’s Messenger’ (Rasul Allah) out of veneration for him.” He divided his night into three parts: one for writing, one for praying, and one for sleeping.
Apocryphal accounts claim that Imam Ahmad said of ash-Shafi'i, “I never saw anyone adhere more to hadith than al-Shafi’i. No one preceded him in writing down the hadith in a book.” Imam Ahmad is also claimed to have said, “Not one of the scholars of hadith touched an inkwell nor a pen except he owed a huge debt to al-Shafi’i.”
Imam al Shaybani said, “If the scholars of hadith speak, it is in the language of al Shafi’i.”
Shah Waliullah, a 18th century Sunni Islamic scholar stated :
|“||A Mujadid appears at the end of every century: The Mujtahid of the 1st century was Imam of Ahlul Sunnah, Umar bin Abdul Aziz. The Mujadid of the 2nd century was Imam of Ahlul Sunnah Muhammad Idrees as-Shafi'i the Mujadid of the 3rd century was Imam of Ahlul Sunnah Abu Hasan Ashari the Mujadid of the 4th century was Abu Abdullah Hakim Nishapuri.||”|
- ^ Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies. pg. 86. Cambridge University Press 2002.
- ^ The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qurʼan, the Muwaṭṭaʼ and Madinan ʻAmal, by Yasin Dutton, pg. 16
- ^ Rawdah-al-Manazir fi al-Awai'l wa al 'Awakhir Volume 11 page 133
- ^ Tarikh Abul Fida Volume 1 under the chapter addressing the events of 45 Hijri 
- ^ Izalat al-Khafa p. 77 part 7
Also: "al-Shafi'i's Risala: Treatise on the Foundation of Islamic Jurisprudence" Majid Khadduri. Original 1961, reprinted 1997. ISBN 0-946621-15-2.
al-Shafi'i,Muhammad b. Idris,"The Book of the Amalgamation of Knowledge" translated by Aisha Y. Musa in Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on The Authority Of Prophetic Traditions in Islam, New York: Palgrave, 2008
Arabic: 'أحمد بن حنبل ' Ahmad bin Hanbal) (780 - 855 CE, 164 - 241 AH) was an important Muslim scholar and theologian born in Khorassan to a family of Arab origin  He is considered the founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). His full name was Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu `Abd Allah al-Shaybani. Shayban or Banu Shaybah is Ibn Hanbal's tribe. It is an Arabic tribe located in Arabia and it still exists in Arabia (Saudi Arabia) (أحمد بن محمد بن حنبل أبو عبدالله الشيباني).
BiographyAhmad ibn Hanbal was born at Merv, in Khorassan in 780 , the city in which his parents were living. Ibn Hanbal's family was of Arabic origin and they spoke Arabic. they belonged to the Arabic tribe Banu Shaibah ( Arabic بنو شيبه) which still exists in Arabia (Saudi Arabia) ,  Ibn Hanbal died at Baghdad in 855. 
Youth and EducationHe started his career by learning jurisprudence (fiqh) under the celebrated Hanafi judge Abu Yusuf, the renowned student and companion of Abu Hanifah. He then discontinued his studies with Abu Yusuf in the pursuit of hadith, travelling around the Caliphate, at the age of 15. It's said that as a student he highly impressed his teachers. Ibn al-Jawzi states that Ibn Hanbal had 414 hadith masters whom he narrated from. Imam al-Shafi’i was one of Ibn Hanbal's teachers with whom he had a mutual respect.
Ibn Hanbal did not content himself with seeking knowledge, he also acted, by making jihad, performing the guard duty at Islamic frontiers (ribat) and making Hajj five times in his life, twice on foot.
Expertise in Various Sciencesmufti. By this time, he had mastered six or seven Islamic disciplines, according to al-Shafi'i. He became a leading authority in hadith and left a colossal hadith encyclopaedia, al-Musnad, as a living proof of his proficiency and devotion to this science. He is also remembered as a leading and the most balanced critic of hadith his time. Ibn Hanbal became a principal specialist in jurisprudence, since he had the advantage of benefiting from some of the famous early jurists and their heritage, such as Abu Hanifah, Malik ibn Anas, al-Shafi'i, and many others. His learning, piety and unswerving faithfulness to traditions gathered a host of disciples and admirers around him. He further improvised and developed upon previous schools, becoming the founder of a new independent school of jurisprudence, known as the Hanbali school. Some scholars, such as Qutaiba b. Sa’id, noted that if Ibn Hanbal had witnessed the age of Sufyan al-Thawri, Malik, al-Awza’i and Laith b. Sa’d, he would have surpassed them all. Despite being bilingual, he became an expert in the Arabic language, poetry, and grammar.
The MihnaThe Caliph Al-Ma'mun subjected scholars to severe persecution at the behest of the Mu'tazili theologians, most notably Bishr al-Marrisi and Ahmad b. Abi Du’ad, mainly to establish the notion that God created the Quran as a physical entity (rather than saying that Quran is God's speech in an indescribable way, as held by the orthodox view).
Almost all of the scholars in Baghdad acknowledged the creation-of-Quran doctrine, with the notable exceptions of Ibn Hanbal and Muhammad ibn Nuh. This greatly pained and angered Ibn Hanbal, so that he boycotted some of the great traditionists for their acknowledgement and often refused to narrate hadith from them. Amongst those boycotted were a close companion and a colleague of Ibn Hanbal, Yahya b. Ma’in, about whom it is said that Ibn Hanbal refused to speak to him until he died.
Finally, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Muhammad ibn Nuh were also put to the test on the order of al-Ma’mun, but they refused to acknowledge the literal creation of the Quran as created like other of Allah's creatures. Consequently, they were dispatched in irons to be dealt with by al-Ma’mun himself. On the way, Imam Ahmad supplicated to Allah to prevent him from meeting al-Ma’mun. His prayer was answered in the sudden death of al-Ma’mun, due to which they were both sent back. Muhammad b. Nuh died on their return journey, and there was none to prepare his funeral, pray over, and bury him except Imam Ahmad.
The policy endorsing the created-Quran premise was continued by al-Mu'tasim (who is reported to have had Ibn Hanbal flogged) and by al-Wathiq (who banished Ibn Hanbal from Baghdad).
This was ended, however, by al-Mutawakkil who, unlike his predecessors, had the utmost respect and admiration for the Sunni school. Promptly after assuming the position as Caliph, he sent orders throughout the Caliphate to put an immediate end to all discussions regarding the Quran, released all the prisoners of faith, dismissed the Mu’tazili judges, and more significantly deported the chief investigator of the inquisition, Ahmad b. Abi Du’ad along with his family. He further ordered that the Mu’tazili judges responsible for the inquisition be cursed from by the pulpits, by name. Al-Mutawakkil is said to have treated Ibn Hanbal in a special way.
Illness, Death and FuneralAfter Ibn Hanbal turned 77, he was struck with severe illness and fever, and became very weak, yet never complained about his infirmity and pain. After hearing of his illness, masses flocked to his door. The ruling family also showed the desire to pay him a visit, and to this end sought his permission. However, due to his desire to remain independent of any influence from the authority, Ahmad denied them access.
He died in Baghdad in Rabi' al-Awwal, 241 AH (Friday, July 31, 855 CE). The news of his death quickly spread far and wide in the city and the people flooded the streets to attend his funeral. One of the rulers, upon hearing the news, sent burial shrouds along with perfumes to be used for the funeral. However, respecting Ibn Hanbal’s wishes, his sons refused the offering and instead used a burial shroud prepared by his female servant. Moreover, his sons took care not to use water from their homes to wash the body, as Ibn Hanbal had refused to utilise any of their resources because they had accepted the offerings of the ruler.
After preparing his funeral, his sons prayed over him, along with around 200 members of the ruling family, while the streets were teeming with both men and women, awaiting the funeral procession. The funeral was then brought out and the multitudes continued to pray over him outdoors, before and after his burial at his grave. According to the Tarjamatul Imam, over 800,000 men and 60,000 women attended his funeral.
Books in Ibn al-Nadim's Fihrist
- Kitab al-`Ilal wa Ma‘rifat al-Rijal "Hidden Flaws in Hadith" Riyad: Al-Maktabah al-Islamiyyah
- Kitab al-Manasik "Ritual in Hajj"
- Kitab al-Zuhd "Piety" ed. Muhammad Zaghlul, Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-'Arabi, 1994
- Kitab al-Iman "Faith"
- Kitab al-Masa'il "Problems in Fiqh"
- Kitab al-Ashribah "Drink"
- Kitab al-Fada'il Sahaba "Virtues of the Companions"
- Kitab Tha'ah al-Rasul
- Kitab Mansukh "Abrogation"
- Kitab al-Fara'id "Obligatory Duties"
- Kitab al-Radd `ala al-Zanadiqa wa'l-Jahmiyya (Cairo: 1973)
- Musnad [extant]
DoctrineFor information on his madhhab see:
- In a well-known narration his uncle sent Ibn Hanbal with several documents containing information about some people to the Caliph. He took the papers and when his uncle eventually met him, he discovered that he had not delivered them but rather threw them into the sea because, out of the fear of God, he didn't want to be an informant. To this, his uncle replied: "This little boy fears Allah so much! What then of us?"
- Al-Mutawakkil is said to have wished to take care of all Ibn Hanbal's affairs. Ibn Hanbal, however, turned down the offers due to his general dislike of being close to rulers. Al-Mutwakkil, knowing that Ibn Hanbal would refuse his offerings, instead presented some gifts to his son Salih. When it came to his knowledge, Ibn Hanbal showed strong disapproval and refused to consume anything from his son’s wealth.
- It is said that, when told that it was religiously permissible to say what pleases his persecuters without believing in it at the time of mihna, he said "If I remained silent and you remained silent, then who will teach the ignorant?".
- “The graves of sinners from People of Sunnah is a garden, while the graves of the pious ascetics from the People of Innovation is a barren pit. The sinners among Ahlus Sunnah are the Friends of Allaah, while the pious among Ahlul-Bidah are the Enemies of Allaah.”